Author Interview with Donna Jo Napoli

9780385908917_zoomGet to know Donna…

You know, I have a standard bio, but I’m sort of sick of it.  So let me try a new one. I never wanted to be a writer. I became one by accident.  And now I’m so glad I am.  Because I need writing.  I need the outlet – the place where I am in charge – where all kinds of surprises can happen. I’ve published over 70 books and I’m still making a zillion mistakes.  But it’s so very good to be “out there” – to be telling people what I need to tell them.  It’s a lifeline.  At this point I can’t imagine life without it. For more info, visit my website

Let the conversation begin!

What kitchen utensil would you be? 

A butter knife. I love soft cheeses. 

Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud or too quiet?

Too loud. I hate having to shout to be heard and I hate asking others to shout. 

What is your earliest childhood memory?

Maybe watching my brother play the piano. 

What food item would you remove from the market altogether?

Okra, offal of any sort. 

What do you think you do best in your writing? Bragging is encouraged.

Maybe it’s sad to say, but I think where I excel is in research.  Probably because I love it so much. I’ll just find out a zillion things about the time and place of my story, and that makes it a lot easier to imagine my character moving through that time and place, and a lot easier to understand what kinds of actions and reactions are possible/ probable for my character. 

What one word describes you?

Indefatigable.

h29549If I gave you a brick, what would you do with it? 

Put it in a pot, add dirt, plant a water lily, and stick it all in a pond. 

What do you do when you see a spider in your house? 

Move.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

Anne Tyler. Reading her helps me to realize I’m allowed to linger in characterization. 

What book are you reading now?

The Bonobo and The Atheist.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

YES. I would give my main character some very, very lovable characteristic.  She’s a very ordinary girl who makes a serious mistake – and then repents and pays for it – but I’m finding that people don’t like her and that kills me.  I could have easily given her a hook – I wish I had. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Over and over I realize anew how important reading is. Just read read read. Your brain will be working as you do it. 

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